I finished two very different books over the weekend, both enjoyable for very different reasons. First up is The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
I am such a Gaiman Fangirl that I suspected I would love The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but what I ended up feeling after closing this novel was something beyond that emotion. Enraptured, entranced, enthralled...yes, all of those, and complete, total adoration. The Ocean at the End of the Lane exceeded my expectations on every level.
I always expect something different and otherworldly when reading a Gaiman young adult novel, and this one is no exception. Told from the viewpoint of a seven-year-old boy (whose name we never learn), it's the story of a summer when a houseguest commits suicide on the farm of a mysterious trio of females. The young man becomes involved with the eleven-year-old girl who lives on the farm, and together they embark on an adventure that leads to an odd creature escaping its confines through the boy, and the desperate fight to get rid of the creature as it wreaks havoc on the boy's home life. All of this plays out in a magical fantasy filled with lovely descriptions and colorful environments that are as creepy as they are intriguing. The ending is perfection; heck, the whole book is!
If you've never read a novel by Neil Gaiman, definitely take the time to search out The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It's true that it's a fantasy, but underneath are the common feelings we all experience and the characters we all recognize. This is a slim book that packs a wonderful, fantastic tale that I will want to revisit time and again.
The second one is Holy Ghosts, written by Gary Jansen:
Holy Ghosts is a very quick read; it's the non-fiction tale of Gary Jansen and his family, whose home is invaded by ghosts. Jansen had lived in the home growing up, and his mother even told him once that there was a ghost living there, but it's once he is older and has purchased the house for himself and his growing family that the odd incidents began to increase. After his wife's miscarriage, Jansen experiences electric sensations, sounds, toys going off randomly, and lots of unexplained shadows. Through his work in the publishing industry, he is able to contact Mary Ann Winkowski (the lady on whom the tv show The Ghost Whisperer is based) and she advises him of details of the two ghosts and also how to rid his home of them. Along the way, Jansen, a spiritual Catholic, discusses how the presence of the ghosts affected him on religious levels, doing research and leading him to a stronger faith.
This book is quite engaging, even if there is a good deal about Jansen's personal upbringing; this is understandable due to the fact that he's spent much of his life living in the same place. I liked that much of his research and experiences were backed up by the facts, and his interactions with Winkowski are particularly amazing. If Jansen is to be believed, (and I feel strongly that he is telling the truth), then this story is fairly solid proof that there is something more out there. This is an enjoyable read and definitely one to get you thinking, particularly if you have any interest at all in the paranormal.